Rigging a Simple Kite Setup

Many of us around the state of Florida know kite fishing is a popular tactic throughout the year when conditions allow. However, it is particularly effective during the coming months when passing cold fronts bring stiff breezes and excellent offshore fishing. Kite fishing, to a beginner, can appear to be a somewhat difficult and complex technique with several components working in harmony, but don’t overthink it. Achieving an effective kite spread doesn’t require an entire crew of skilled anglers and thousands of dollars in tackle.

If you’ve fished offshore, particular on the southeast coast of the state or in the Florida Keys where the winter sailfish migration really pops off, you’ve probably seen countless boats flying kites. Some novice anglers are completely confused at the idea of kites flying in the wind while fishing and aren’t really sure how they become advantageous. Others are well aware of the concept; they just think they don’t have the expertise or the means to kite fish. Well, we’re here to tell you that you, too, can fish an effective kite spread. Though seasoned tournament teams on massive sportfish yachts and top-of-the-line center consoles make it look like a complicated tactic, there really isn’t much to it.

With a little bit of practice and a helpful crew, you’ll be working a two-kite spread before you know it.

The main idea here is to present baits naturally at the surface down-wind of your vessel. By attaching your kite to a dedicated kite rod, you simply let it fly and feed line out slowly. On the kite line itself, there are 2, 3 and even up to 4 release clips where your monofilament fishing lines, the ones that will be doing all the fishing, will be clipped in. These clips will rest on the kite rod’s main line outside of the top guide of the kite rod. Also on the kite rod’s main line are evenly spaced swivels or clumps of rigging floss that will catch on to the release clips and hold them in place. The through-holes in the release clips are sized differently so the different swivels or rigging floss knots can pass through accordingly, stopping only when they reach their assigned release clip. This sounds incredibly confusing but don’t worry, you can easily purchase a kite rod rigged with everything you need. And, if you can’t afford an electric reel for your kite rod or your boat doesn’t have the proper plug, manual kite reels are available as well and are equally effective.

Let’s talk about the kite itself. Obviously, this is a very important piece of the puzzle and is something you should give a tremendous amount of thought to. When it comes to kites, there are several brands to choose from, including Tigress (, Lewis ( and, our favorite, SFE ( Much of your choice regarding brand is based on personal preference and pricing, but it seems SFE has the greatest variety. The Ultra Light white kite is rated for 4 to 15 mph wind speeds, the All-Purpose green and red kites are rated for 5 to 25 mph wind speeds and the Specialty kites are rated for various heavy-wind scenarios. As a beginner, we recommend the All-Purpose kites, as they will get the job done in most scenarios. In light wind situations, you may need to attach a balloon filled with helium, but for now, let’s stick to the basics.

Chances are the first time you go to fly your kite; it won’t fly correctly. Therefore, don’t just let it go assuming it’ll soar perfectly into the sky. Rather, place the kite line in your hand and let it out in small increments. Then, if it doesn’t fly properly, you can retrieve it without letting it hit the water. Remember, a wet kite is a useless kite. If it doesn’t fly properly at first, adjust the bridle and test it again. This is going to be a process of trial and error, and it can be frustrating, but once you get it to fly correctly, you’re in business. If you are flying two kites and want them to fly away from each other, a split shot weight or two can be placed on the top corner of the kite in the direction you want it to fly. For example, if you’re fishing off the stern of your boat and you want one kite to fly to your right and the other to fly to your left, place your split shots on the top right of the right-side kite and the top left of the left-side kite, respectively.

For the actual outfits you’ll be using to fish from the kites, it’s best to keep things simple. 20 lb. class conventional gear spooled with 20 lb. monofilament is the way to go here. Make sure it’s monofilament, too, as braided main line is hard to see and will get caught in the release clip. Furthermore, high-visibility mono in bright yellow or orange is your best bet, as it’s easy to see. At the end of the mono, you want to put the following items on in this order: a small metal or ceramic solid ring that will be attached to the release clip, an easy-to-see float, a small egg sinker, a plastic bead and a snap swivel. The weight of your egg sinker depends on how windy it is – in windier settings, a heavier sinker is required to keep your baits in the water.

That’s kite fishing in a nutshell. It may seem complex, but all it takes is some equipment and attention to detail. However, the results speak for themselves, as presented baits struggling on the surface spread out to cover more water is superior to simply flat lining. If you’re just getting started, take it step by step and keep at it, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.